We all know people who won’t take responsibility for anything; they are forever blaming others for their problems.
But some of us have the opposite problem – we take the blame for everything, including things that are not our responsibility.
A misunderstanding with a friend? A team project that didn’t get finished on time? You are taking too long in the grocery checkout line? A divorce?
I frequently find myself apologizing for things that are not my fault. Recently I was meeting a friend for lunch. She was a bit late and came running into the restaurant panting and out of breath.
I immediately said, “I’m sorry.” Why was I sorry? My rationale was that if she hadn’t been meeting me for lunch she would not have been rushing and harried, so it was my fault.
Everyone makes mistakes, and it is important to take responsibility for our words and behaviors.
Sometimes things happen and no one is to blame, that is why those are called accidents. How can you really tell if something that happened is your responsibility?
Can you look back at the situation and point to something you did or said that caused that thing to happen? Sometimes you can pinpoint things that you might have done that caused problems, but you don’t necessarily have the full responsibility for the entire situation. Maybe you hurt a friend’s feelings, but when you tried to apologize she got angry and defensive. You are responsible for hurting her feelings, but you can’t take the full blame for the relationship falling apart when you tried to make amends.
A very wise person once said to me, “You aren’t George Clooney. You aren’t that important.” It sounds harsh, but it was a wakeup call for me. He was right, I am not that important. The world does not revolve around me; therefore I cannot be to blame for everything that happens to me, or to anyone else. Whenever I find myself starting to apologize, or ruminating about something I feel is my fault, I check in with myself. How important was I in that situation? If a team project didn’t get turned in on time, maybe I was not given the appropriate information to complete my part of the project. If a long line of people are behind me at the grocery store checkout, perhaps the computer isn’t taking my coupon due to a software glitch.
The next time you find yourself taking the blame, ask yourself if you are truly at fault. Maybe you have a part to play in the situation, maybe it was an accident, or maybe it has nothing to do with you at all. Speak up, stop apologizing, and stop taking the blame.
Read more posts by Linda Tabach, Linda is a blogger for JenningsWire.